On April 13, 2020, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance opened the application portal for the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (“SSBEP”) program.
The SSBEP program provides financial assistance to small and medium-sized business and not-for-profit organizations in Saskatchewan that have been ordered to temporarily close or substantially curtail operations through a public health order by the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan.
Through the SSBEP program eligible businesses receive a one-time payment of 15% of the business’s monthly sales revenues in either April 2019 or February 2020 (the business can select the preferred month to utilize for the calculation with a view to maximizing the benefit), up to a maximum of $5,000.
In order to be eligible for the SSBEP program, a Saskatchewan business must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Be a person, partnership, corporation, co-operative or not-for-profit corporation registered under either The Business Names Registration Act (Saskatchewan), The Business Corporations Act (Saskatchewan), The Non-Profit Corporation Act, 1995 (Saskatchewan), or The Co-Operatives Act (Saskatchewan);
- Have a permanent establishment in Saskatchewan;
- Have fewer than 500 employees;
- Have been carrying on business in Saskatchewan on February 29, 2020;
- Have been ordered to temporarily close or significantly curtail operations through a public health order to help control the transmission of COVID-19;
- Have experienced a loss of sales revenue that affects the applicant’s ability to pay for fixed costs; and
- Have not received any payments or amounts from any other sources, including insurance, to replace or compensate for the loss of sales revenues, other than amounts received from other government assistance programs.
Eligible businesses include dental, optometry, ophthalmology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry or chiropractic service providers who were ordered to provide emergency services only. This also includes restaurants, bars, recreational and entertainment facilities; personal service facilities such as hairdressers that were ordered to close; retail services that are not considered critical or allowable business services; and childcare facilities that had restrictions placed on their business. Businesses that are still permitted to fully operate and are considered “Critical Public Services to Address COVID-19” or allowable business services, are not eligible for the SSBEP program.
In order to qualify for the SSBEP program businesses meeting the eligibility criteria must apply to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance on or before July 31, 2020, by completing the online application form. In completing the application form applicants will need to attest to all of the above eligibility criteria being true, and that they will re-open the business operations following the cancellation of the COVID-19 public health orders. The province has stated that its goal is to make payments within five days of a business submitting an application.
In order to confirm eligibility for the SSBEP program, applicants may be audited by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance following payment of the SSBEP. If any payments are deemed to be received by an ineligible applicant, they will be considered a debt owing to the government of Saskatchewan and such ineligible applicant will be subject to collection proceedings by the government of Saskatchewan.
As you evaluate your businesses eligibility for relief payments during this difficult time, you should consider the SSBEP program as well as a wide range of other subsidies that may be available to your organization. In making these decisions, MLT Aikins LLP would be pleased to assist with determining whether your business structure is eligible for, and how to optimize your benefit from, the SSBEP program, among other emergency relief programs.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.